US and China agree to restart trade talks

The US and China have agreed to resume face-to-face negotiations in a bid to ease tensions in their rapidly escalating trade war, according to statements from both Washington and Beijing on Wednesday night.

The Office of US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he and Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, had spoken with Liu He, China’s vice-premier. “They agreed to hold meetings at the ministerial level in Washington in the coming weeks. In advance of these discussions, deputy-level meetings will take place in mid-September to lay the ground work for meaningful progress,” the USTR said.

China’s commerce ministry said that the visit to Washington by top Beijing officials was set for early October. 

Mr Mnuchin and Mr Lighthizer last met Mr Liu in Shanghai in late July, an inconclusive meeting that led to a rapid cycle of tit-for-tat escalations between the world’s two largest economies.

President Donald Trump imposed 15 per cent tariffs on $112bn of additional Chinese goods this month, and earlier labelled China a currency manipulator.

On October 1, the $250bn of Chinese goods that have already been subject to 25 per cent levies since the beginning of June will see those tariffs rise to 30 per cent, further straining both economies. Mr Trump and Xi Jinping, the US and Chinese presidents, last met in June at the G20 in Osaka, Japan, but the truce agreed there was shortlived amid a breakdown in trust between the two countries.

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